Life thoughts: God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsiblity

God’s sovereignty is the teaching that He possesses all the power to do all things as He is the ruler of all things. He works according to His purpose even if events seem to contradict or oppose His rule. In light of our study in Soteriology, this means that God acted and made a way for us to be saved through the death of Jesus Christ in our place. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Ephesians 2:4-5 says, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” With all the technicalities involved, I understand it this way: God rules everything beyond whatever I can imagine or even begin to imagine. He is the God who created all that I can see, hear, breath, eat and touch. But even though it seems that He is too big for me to grasp, He loves me and wants me to love Him back. This leads me on.

Human responsibility is our side of the story. Though God is sovereign, we are accountable to Him for the actions we make. Romans 3:19 says, Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” Romans 2:5-11 talks about their accountability to God and his judgement because of their stubbornness and unrepentant heart. In light of our study of Soteriology, this is our response to God’s wooing of us while we were still unregenerate. In Ephesians 2:1,5, being dead in our trespasses and sins mean being spiritually separated from God. We are not dead and unable for God cannot woo us thus leaving us with a choice of following Him or not. He is not a divine rapist as some may subtly suggest for that erases the idea of God being a loving God. 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Instead we are incapable. Psalm 107:14 says, “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces.” We were chained when we were in sin, and we responded to God’s love. For how can we break the chains on our own without Someone who is able break it for us? So I understand human responsibility this way: I was good as dead, bound to receive my punishment. God’s saving grace was just there waiting for me to say yes to it. How can I receive it if I do not agree to receive it in the first place?

But in all of this, it is still about God. We cannot say yes to something if there is nothing to say yes to. We cannot agree to remove our chains if we did not know that we could have it removed by God.

I admit that it is difficult to understand. But Paul clearly affirms His sovereignty and our responsibility in Romans 9:19-23:

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel [a]for honorable use and another [b]for common use? 22 [c]What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Life thoughts: God’s Rainbow

Genesis 9:12-16


This started as my desire to know something from God that concerns rain. It’s been raining a lot here in Manila. Rivers are widening, streets are becoming flooded. I thought of teaching on something that concerns rain. I can’t think of anything else “rain” but Noah.


12      God said, “This is athe sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for 1all successive generations;

13      I set My abow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.

14      “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,

15      and aI will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and bnever again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16      “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the aeverlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”



New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ge 9:12–16.


I think everyone who has read this passage know the promise of the rainbow–the Noahic Covenant; God’s promise of not destroying the world with water. But I wanted to dig deeper. So, why a rainbow? Why not a tree? Why not a star? Why a rainbow for a covenant? The answer is actually mind-blowing, yet very simple. In Ezek, 1:28, we find a reference to a rainbow to God sitting on His throne.


28      As the appearance of the arainbow 1in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the bglory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I cfell on my face and heard a voice speaking.


New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Eze 1:28.


In Rev. 4:3, we find this reference of the rainbow within God’s presence upon His throne in heaven.


3      And He who was sitting was like a ajasper stone and a bsardius in appearance; and there was a 1crainbow around the throne, like an demerald in appearance.


New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Re 4:3.


The rainbow is not just an earth-made, natural wonder, but it is in fact an object from heaven. Not just any object, but an object surrounding the throne of God.


So I ask: People are so fond of rainbows. Why? I mean, personally, if I could take a picture of all the rainbows I see, I will. Once, I encountered a double rainbow on the way to work. That was probably the first time I saw two very clear rainbow one on top of the other. Nothing can beat that, yet.


The principle of the rainbow is this: God’s promises are true because a part of who He is given to us. The rainbow is a part of heaven, a part of His throne, a part of Him. And He has made us see a glimpse of heaven when He made a covenant to Noah with a rainbow.


How does a covenant or promise become legit enough? I think that covenant are remembered when an object represents it. A ring for a married couple associates one’s spouse with that ring in that whenever one looks at it, so many memories of love and joy flash back. A letter from a loved one associates that person to that letter. So even independent of the content of the letter, one remembers the giver of that letter because one is associated with it. I saw a film once about my favorite Romantic composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. Researchers claim to have found a handful of strands of his hair encased in a vacuum sealed dome. Literally, a part of Beethoven is remembered until now just because of those strands of hair. As a musician, I will always say that every composition of mine contains my heart and soul. So if asked what my favorite work is, I would say everything, because a part of me is hidden somewhere within the music.


In the same way, we remember God because a part of Him is seen through the rainbow. And since that rainbow was established to be a remembrance of His promise to Noah, we can be sure that His promise will never fail. And as a God who is immutable and holy, and eternal, it is who He is that makes that covenant true up to today. He never changes, He is not double-minded like we are. And He has given us a physical reference of Himself through the rainbow. Maybe that’s why we are fond of rainbows. It doesn’t only signify the end of a storm, it doesn’t only signify God’s covenant, but it reminds us of God. Who knows, maybe we are looking at Him sitting on His throne. And since we see Him through the rainbow, we see hope, love, life, joy and remember our salvation. So next time you see a rainbow, say hi to God. You are looking at Him.

Life thoughts: Assurance of Salvation

Security and assurance are very much inter-related that it is actually difficult to look at one without the other. Allow me to define the two.

According to The Handbook to Bible Study, security or eternal security is:

The biblical teaching that God will not fail to bring into his presence for unending enjoyment of spiritual blessings those who have placed their faith in Christ;

Assurance is:

a person’s inner knowledge, given by the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Scriptures, that he is a child of God; involves understanding the “terms of salvation,” namely that, if a person has taken a step of exercising genuine faith in Christ, he is accepted by God and becomes the recipient of all the blessings of salvation.

These two doctrines are related because if eternal security is a correct doctrine, which it is (Jn. 10:28-30), because of the testimony of Jesus Christ and God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises (Rom. 8:29-39), then one can be sure of the salvation he or she has in Jesus Christ. He is the author of our faith (Heb. 12:2), and only He can be the source of our security. Therefore, the assurance a believer can have does not rely on his own works, for the perseverance of the faith is impossible to be a basis of assurance. It is based on four truths:

      1. When we were saved, we were placed in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The Bible doesn’t teach that a believer can be removed from that body, lest be stripped off of salvation.
      2. We were sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). God’s seal can never be broken.
      3. We are kept by God when we believed (Jn. 13:1)
      4. Ultimately, nothing can really separate us from His love (Rom. 8:29-39).

To explain this to someone is somewhat a daunting task for me because every detail needs to be precise and accurate as not to confuse or even distort these two important doctrines. Both assurance and security should be a concrete belief of every believer. But the truth is, most Christians doubt their assurance of salvation in that they sometimes fail to conclude that “I am saved once and forever, therefore I am going to be with Him someday.” Let me try explain it through an illustration.

If you have not known, I am a musician. I have an undergrad degree in music and pursuing a graduate degree in music the same time as I am doing graduate studies here in GSOT. I am a composer and conductor so I will use my experience to best explain security and assurance.

I’ve done a lot of concerts here in the Philippines and around Southeast Asia. Once in a while I will conduct a piece for orchestra and voice, where the voice is usually a soprano soloist. My security will come from my knowledge that the soloist has had years of experience as a student and concert artist. So every cue I give, I am secured that she will sing in correct rhythm and melody with great expressions. Say we just met for a particular concert. Her experience and education is my greatest security, but I might not be assured that she will sing correctly because we have not rehearsed yet. In other words, my part of believing in her is not concrete even though she has all the experience she could ever need for the piece.

This is sometimes my problem. Before this discussion, and before reading the chapters on assurance and security, those two doctrines where not clear to me. I’ve heard a lot of teachings about it but never heard security taught side by side with assurance. Praise God because He is sovereign. We can never really do anything for any merit. We can also ultimately be sure of His love because nothing can separate us from His love.





Karleen, Paul S. The Handbook to Bible Study : With a Guide to the Scofield Study System. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. A Survey of Bible Doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.

Life thoughts: The state of the unbeliever

The state of the unbeliever according to Paul in Ephesians 2:1 is dead because of their trespasses and sins. We were all born dead spiritually, and the unbeliever is continuously dead in his trespasses and sins because of the sin we inherited from Adam. 1 Corinthians 15: 21-22 (NASB) says, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

The word used is νεκροὺς (nekros). νεκροὺς means dead, lifeless and useless. It also refers to a dead person or a corpse. Ephesians 2:1 refers to a spiritiual death. This can be seen by looking at the use of νεκροὺς which was used three more times in the book. Eph. 1:20 talks about how God raised Christ from the dead, which is both a physical and spiritual manifestation (Jn 4:24: “God is spirit…”); Eph. 2:5 which is Paul’s further explanation of 2:1 talks about being dead in transgression and sins; Eph. 5:14 says “Awake sleeper, And arise from the dead…” which talks about being the urge for the sleeper to be awake through Christ.

Being spiritually dead is being separated from the presence of God. This is the state of the unbeliever. He is eternally separated from God and cannot enjoy his presence forever. Since the unbeliever is dead, he is a spiritual corpse. Therefore, he cannot and is totally unable to do anything to save himself from being eternally dead and separated from God. How can a dead body save himself? How can a corpse live again? How can an unbeliever, who is dead, save himself? How can an unbeliever, who is a dead corpse, be alive again? It is impossible, because he is DEAD! This is where God’s grace comes in.

Rom. 6:23 NASB:

23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Life thoughts: 1 Timothy 4:1-5

1 Timothy 4:1-5

As short as it is, I’ve learned a lot from this passage. Some will abandon the faith being committed to false teachings. Paul just used the word πλάνος or planos (deceit) twice in his letters. In 2 Corinthians 6:8, he uses the same Greek word to refer to themselves preceived as others as deceivers. In 1 Tim. 4:1 the context is not of themsleves but can be pertained (in lieu of 2 Cor. 6:8) to those who pretend to be part of them, those who pretend to be Christians, but teach a different Gospel like the Judaizers of the Galatians. Paul differentiates it from the doctrine of the devil in the passage which shows that there are 2 different teachings pulling away both Christians and non believers away from the saving knowledge and devotion to God. I would say that the “later times” Paul is referring to is now.

I made a paper on prosperity gospel in my Soteriology class. I enjoyed it as I discovered how they teach. They teach from the Bible but they deceive people into believing the Bible in a different perspective–out of context perspective; or lack of it. Verse 2 says that is “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.” Paul uses the word seared or kasteriazo just once, as it also appears just once in the whole Bible. So intense is his warning about people who teach these lies like they have no conscience–blatant liars. Verse 3 says that these are people who give so much rules and instruct people to abstain from some food and practices. In this day and age, people like this are living in double standards. They say one thing, yet do it differently. I know of a denomination that, years ago, prohibits their women to wear shorts and prohibits the use of technology. But I know of some of its members, even the pastors family who use technology a lot. The pastor’s daughters even wear shorts outside of the church.

I can go on and on with this passage. But primarily, this passage has taught me to guard my stand on theology and the Bible and only trust on what God says in His Word.

Life thoughts: Psalm 51

Psalm 51


Yesterday, me and my group did some serious spring cleaning in our office. This is an office/classroom/rehearsal room. I am a director of an instrumental ensemble and we have a concert this July and we need all the space we can have for a comfortable rehearsal. It amazed us how much dirt and clutter are in the room even examinations from the 80s! It’s an old room full of history of knowledge and sometimes shame. I saw some of my exam results in my early years as an undergrad music student. It surprised everyone that I almost failed my entrance exam to be a freshman music student. It was such a shame. But then they also saw another test paper of mine with the highest grade possible. I told them that it just goes to show that I learned a lot. They agreed. As I was searching the other test papers, one member of the group told me that I was looking at the papers of her class many years ago. I saw her name, and she quickly snatched the paper from my hand and tore it apart. Apparently she failed that exam. But she’s graduating now, so it really doesn’t matter.


Psalm 51 talks about how David was begging God to cleanse Him. Verse 7 says:

1Purify me awith hyssop, and I shall be clean;

2Wash me, and I shall be bwhiter than snow.


Hyssop is a type of bush that has had a lot of Biblical history. Hyssop was used to daub blood over the doorposts of the passover, it was associated with cleansing, also, Jesus sipped wine from a sponge raised on a hyssop branch. That hyssop represents the blood of Jesus and his death in the cross. David is saying, “God with your blood, please cleanse me so that my fellowship with you will be restored.”


I need cleansing with the hyssop right now. I have wronged God so many times, promised to not do it, but still do the same thing over and over again. But the Bible does promise, that our guilt and shame has now been washed away. I am just holding on to that promise right now. I’ve confessed so many times and have prayed for victory over this sin, but it seems that my sinful nature is still trying to win me back. But the promise is true. However sinful and shameful I may be, I am already cleansed, sorted out by the grace of God. Thank you Lord!



New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 51:7.

Life thoughts: Psalm 52

Psalm 52

Delayed for some days, yes. But nonetheless trying to catch up. I’ve been so busy and tired the past two days because I’ve been rehearsing my group for a series of concerts this July. I am their conductor and it is an immense responsibility to fulfill the task of leadership and musicianship. The last chapter I read was Psalm 51, so I thought why not continue to do it.

I am amazed on how God speaks to me in a very unique way. I read the chapter without expectations, but truly the Bible is God’s Word. It talks about seeing someone boast on his evil deeds and the other person reflecting on how a punishment is waiting for that person and how he is protected by God forever.

The Bible considers reliance on self and independence on God as unGodly. The word boast means “to shine.” This reminded me of my career as a musician. As an artist and performer, I cannot help but think of myself as someone who could “shine” in a performance. We are performing really difficult pieces, and as the conductor, all glory will go to me. This is the most difficult thing that someone as myself can face–accepting all their praises. It is a kind of boasting after all. But verse 5 says, that God will break down that who boasts, will snatch him up, and uproot that person from the land of the living–which means abundance of life here on earth. Being boastful about my own talents and independence from God sure has a lot of consequences.

I learned that trusting on my self is not what the Bible teaches. I should pray more and rely on God more and more each day.